Inclusive Bird Feeding

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Whenever we give advice on how to exclude certain birds or critters from feeders we get asked, 'why would I not want to feed everyone? They all deserve it!' - We agree! 

There are undoubtedly certain species that can create a block for other birds or wildlife getting their fair share, and that's when we start to wonder how we can problem solve or exclude. By using various products and types of feeders, we can provide a safer experience for all. 

We are going to walk through some products, who they are meant to exclude, and in turn - include. 


Baffle + Cage being used. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

We have both WBU APS Raccoon Baffles and WBU APS Squirrel Baffles (made for Eastern Grey Squirrels). This isn't to say that squirrels and raccoons can't or won't get their fair share but rather that there will still be seed left for the others! 

Raccoons tend to raid feeders at night, as they are nocturnal and can knock over, damage, and empty feeders. When that happens, no one else gets to enjoy the seed. Raccoon baffles help prevent this and raccoons will often still feed from the area under feeders, where seeds fall. 

Likewise, Eastern Grey Squirrels can drain feeders quickly. Further if squirrels can reach a feeder and feed directly from it, it's unlikely that birds will visit. In this way, it makes sense to provide separate feeding opportunities. You can use a squirrel baffle to keep squirrels off of feeders and feed on the ground instead. You can even put out extra seed, peanuts or other treats on the ground or in Ground Trays if you want to give a little extra love. 

Feeder Cages

Baltimore Orioles feeding from a Tray feeder inside a cage. Photo by Leanne Leblanc. 

Feeder cages are a great way to filter which size of bird can access certain foods or feeders. WBU Tube Feeder cages exclude European Starlings, Common Grackles, and Eastern Grey Squirrels, while most songbirds can fit through. This allows other songbirds refuge and feeding opportunities without the threat or overwhelm of grackles, starlings, and squirrels. It also helps protect high quality food! If you are spending the money to provide high quality items to migrant or resident birds, you don't want to see it disappear overnight and you can be choosy about where you put that food and who it is offered to. We also carry WBU Seed Cylinder Cages and other feeder cages that help to exclude birds or critters that may overwhelm the feeder, leaving little opportunity for other birds to enjoy. 

Hot Pepper Products

Male Cardinal with Hot Pepper Bark Butter. Photo by Leanne Leblanc. 

Hot Pepper products deter mammals, while birds enjoy them. This creates opportunities to offer 'bird specific' food that is unlikely to be gobbled up before they get a chance to enjoy it. There has been some debate surrounding Hot Pepper products. 

Here is an excerpt from Jim Carpenter, the founder and CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited:

In mammals, capsaicin from hot pepper interacts with a specific receptor protein called VR1 (vanilloid receptor 1) found on nerve endings, and evokes sensations of burning and pain. Scientist have isolated the VR1 receptor in birds and found that capsaicin does not bind to it, thus it does not produce a painful sensation. Capsaicin alone does not irritate or damage tissues in the mouth, eyes or digestive tract of birds. In fact, several species of birds and wild peppers have evolved a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship, in which the birds consume the pepper’s fruits and then go on to disperse the seeds. Turkeys, Curve-billed Thrashers, Northern Cardinals, Northern Mockingbirds, Gila Woodpeckers, Cedar Waxwings, Elegant Trogons, Great Kiskadees, Tropical Kingbirds and Hepatic Tanagers have all been documented eating the fruits of different capsicum species in the wild.

Bark Butter is super fun to spread on bark but squirrels can be a huge deterrent to people using it this way. This doesn't mean that you can't offer normal Bark Butter or other foods reachable by squirrels, but rather allows us to create opportunities for other species. 

By diversifying which foods are available to certain birds or mammals, we are able to create more opportunities for a wider range of species!

Happy feeding!



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